Gifted Education Update: Differentiation
from BCESC Gifted Coordinator Cathy Chenoweth
Video: Differentiation and the Brain - Carol Ann Tomlinson and David Sousa (1:15)
One thing I hear teachers say over and over is that one of their greatest challenges is meeting the needs of all their students.

Teachers are required to instruct based on various curriculum and grade level standards, but what if their students’ readiness levels don’t meet those requirements? Some students may not have the necessary background knowledge or skills to learn grade-level content. Others may have already mastered it, or will do so in a fraction of the time that other students can. According to many of the teachers I work with, the gap between student proficiency levels continues to widen and we all know that COVID-19’s impact on education is not helping.
For years we’ve heard that differentiation is part of the answer, but it seems difficult and complicated. Who has time to create three (or more!) sets of activities for every lesson? Is there a way to make differentiation manageable? How can we create classrooms that help all students learn without creating hours of extra work for teachers?

There are some answers emerging from the fields of cognitive neuroscience and educational psychology that I think can really help teachers address these questions:

  • What helps students learn things well?
  • What kinds of conditions can we create that are conducive to learning?
  • How can we meet students’ needs without losing our minds?
Starting January 11, we’ll explore this topic through an online study of the book Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner Friendly Classroom (Use Brain-Based Learning and Neuroeducation to Differentiate Instruction) by David A. Sousa & Carol Ann Tomlinson. Yes, the title is a mouthful, but the ideas inside the book are practical, research-based and manageable.

This book tackles the idea of differentiation for all students, and our study will focus on how differentiation benefits gifted learners. Participants will earn 15 hours of gifted HQPD upon completion of this study. You can learn more or register here.

I know many of you are facing the challenge of hectic schedules and competing demands this time of year. However, I think this study could provide some great benefits for you. I promise it will be manageable, practical, and hopefully create some really positive impacts for you and your students.
Please contact me if you have any questions. I look forward to learning alongside you. 

Cathy Chenoweth
(513) 896-2322 office
(513) 379-3619 cell